Barnard religion professor Randall Balmer just guaranteed himself best-selling author status.
Appearing on The Daily Show last night to plug his latest book, God in the White House, Balmer talked with host Jon Stewart (and his well-heeled audience of 2 million) about how religion has shaped the modern American presidency. Balmer argues that voters have become much more concerned than they used to be about their presidents’ religious views and, in particular, how public those views are made.
“For many Americans, most Americans, religion is a proxy for morality,” Balmer told Stewart. “What we really want to know is are they moral, are they good people, and the only way we can frame the question is, ‘Do you go to church?'”
Stewart also asked about the possibility of electing an athiest president: “What will come first, black, woman, Hispanic, gay, Jew, atheist?”
“I think pretty much in that order,” Balmer quipped.
The full video of the interview can be found on The Daily Show site.